A Dashiell Hammett once over can decipher a departing officeholder's afterlife. A baguette in hand and French for Dummies hidden beneath the International Herald Tribune? Somebody is angling for an ambassadorial gig (ideally in the French Caribbean.) A Western governor in Washington, D.C., all at once trumpeting the economic pluses of national parks with vigor and elan? Let's just say that secretary of the U.S. Interior is not a lifetime appointment.
"When she leaves the executive mansion as Washington state’s 22nd governor next January, Democrat Chris Gregoire wants to unwind by taking a month to visit some national parks with her husband, Mike," the Olympian's Rob Hotakainen writes. "She’s hoping that more foreign tourists will do the same."
As Hotakainen reports, Gregoire is using the national governors' winter meeting to burnish the role of national parks as an economic driver and magnet for middle-class Chinese tourists. The park message should resonate with the Obama Administration while also underlining Gregoire's enviro bona fides as Washington's former Ecology director. Unless and until observers spot those baguette crums, Interior may be the governor's not-so-hidden 2013 objective.
If Gregoire ends up as Interior secretary or EPA director, she might feel obliged to hire Jay Inslee. Inslee, who is running for governor in one of the bluest of blue states, has yet to hit his stride. Does Inslee's inertia reflect systemic problems internal to his campaign, a lack of statewide name recognition, or simply not having sufficient campaign time as a commuting member of the U.S. House?
"Last month, with some polls showing U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee trailing his Republican foe in the governor's race, rumors surfaced that the seven-term Democrat may quit Congress to campaign full time," the Seattle Times Kyung M. Song writes. "Inslee's camp swiftly shot down the whispers. Yet the question lingers: Could Inslee bolster his chances of moving into the governor's mansion by moving out of Washington, D.C?"
Song's analysis includes the example of Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie who was pegged a quitter when he resigned from Congress to campaign (it also facilitated the election of a Republican in the subsequent special election.) In addition, the "quit now" chorus could distract from broader thematic and strategic challenges that, resign or no, will likely still remain.
In Olympia, ensuring access to public records while minimizing disagreements (and often egregious fines) could be a win-win.
"A recent increase in large payouts from public records disputes has some in state government considering new ways to avoid costly and drawn-out court battles," the AP's Rachel La Corte writes. "One idea being considered by Attorney General Rob McKenna is a proposal put together by two well-known public records attorneys to 'co-mediate.' While single-person mediation already exists and is used in some state cases, the idea of co-mediation allows for two mediators, both well-steeped in public records' laws — one who represents the requester and another to represent the agency or local government."
There is something of a Getting to Yes optimism inherent with "co-mediation." It could be a salve, or it could be a path to "getting to no" (hopefully the former.)
How pro-choice is pro-choice Washington? Pro-choice enough that abortion coverage could soon emerge as a health-insurance requirement.
"At a time when many states are making it harder for women to get abortions, Washington state appears headed in the opposite direction," the AP's Jonathan Kaminsky writes. "Fifteen states have passed laws restricting insurers from covering abortions and 12 others are considering similar measures. By contrast, a bill that has passed Washington's House and is working its way through the Senate would make the state the first to require all health insurance plans under its jurisdiction — except those claiming a conscience-based exemption — to include abortion coverage."
Federal funding for abortions has been prohibited since the mid-1970s. The larger question is how this state bill, if passed, squares with federal law and President Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
"Though it's a non-binding straw poll with no delegates at stake, Saturday's caucuses (March 3) will give the top vote-getter bragging rights and whatever momentum those provide heading into contests in 10 states on March 6," the Herald's Jerry Cornfield writes. "And in the see-saw marathon involving Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, a little momentum can mean a lot."
Seattlepi.com, "Wash. could be first to require abortion coverage"